Léon Bakst and the Writer: of the Russian Silver Age

Yelena Terkel

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#2 2017 (55)

A prominent artist of the Silver Age of Russian culture, Léon (Lev Samoilovich) Bakst was also a notable figure in the literary community of his time. He was acquainted with, or a friend of many writers and poets whose portraits he painted and whose books he illustrated.

Lev Samoilovich was familiar not only with the classics but with the latest literary works, too. He explained his literary tastes in a 1903 letter to his fiancee Lyubov Grishchenko, daughter of the collector and patron of the arts Pavel Tretyakov: “I hate Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy; I love Gogol, Pushkin, A. [Alexei] Tolstoy, Lermontov, Goncharov, Chekhov, Verlain[e], Musset, Balzac, Baudelaire, Dickens, Bret Hart, Daudet...”[1] Bakst wrote about his first meeting with Anton Chekhov: “Once, as I dropped in on A. Kanaev, in his dimly-lit study on Troitskaya Street, I saw him talking with a fair-haired man of medium height, whom I took for a student by virtue of his costume and the unruly mop of hair over his forehead. I liked his grey, serious eyes and the childish, delicate smile on his round, ‘Russian-looking’ face. Kanaev introduced me with a grin: ‘Your staunch admirer, the future artist Bakst who, for now, has learned four of your short stories by heart.’”[2]

Bakst would retain his admiration for Chekhov throughout his life. One of his favourite writers, with whom he was personally acquainted, was Alexei Tolstoy, whose lithographic portrait Bakst created in 1909. The portrait was printed in “Apollo” magazine, which employed many prominent artists and writers of the Silver Age. Bakst’s friends frequently asked him to design covers for their collections of poems or short stories: such requests produced the book cover for Sergei Gorodetsky’s collection of poems “Perun” (St. Petersburg, 1907), the frontispiece for Konstantin Balmont’s “Ancient Calls” (St. Petersburg, 1906), the cover for Maximilian Voloshin’s “Anno mundi argentis” (Moscow, 1906), and the frontispiece for Alexander Blok’s “A Snow Mask” (St. Petersburg, 1907). As chief illustrator at “Mir iskusstva” (World of Art) magazine, Bakst created not only the periodical’s image and cover, but also headpieces, vignettes and tailpieces for the works of Vasily Rozanov, Konstantin Balmont and Nikolai Minsky.

Bakst became acquainted with a considerable number of writers from the mid-1890s onwards, when he joined Alexandre Benois’ informal community of artists and writers, the group which later produced the magazine “World of Art”. Zinaida Gippius wrote: “I called this club ‘the Diaghilev coterie’, and that title had a particular meaning. The magazine would have hardly materialized had it not been for Diaghilev. Without his energy and... authoritativeness. Diaghilev was a natural-born dictator. When we became acquainted with the members of the group (long before the magazine started), it consisted of the following individuals from Diaghilev’s circle: first, Diaghilev’s cousin Dmitry Filosofov, then Alexandre Benois, Léon Bakst, Walter Nouvel and Alfred Nurok... The ‘World of Art’ editorial office then was housed in Diaghilev’s apartment. Its guests were carefully selected. It seems to me that they were the then artistic and literary ‘cream of society’ - one way or another - proponents of aestheticism, neo-aestheticism.” [3]

In 1900 the magazine printed Gippius’s article “Celebration in the Name of Death”,[4] and the same issue also featured her lithographic portrait by Léon Bakst.[5] She liked the portrait and decided to enlist Bakst’s services for designing her book of poems which was then being prepared by Scorpion publishing house. Overwhelmed by numerous assignments, the artist did not fulfill his promise. Bakst himself remembered in a letter: “There has been a bit of a scandal on account of the cover for Zinochka Merezhkovskaya’s book of poems. She and her husband asked the book’s publisher Valery Bryusov to take a look at the cover before the release. Bryusov replied with an impolitely phrased letter saying that he had assigned the cover to me and he considers me the sort of artist whom he can trust, with his eyes shut, to paint all that I might fancy. Merezhkovsky felt insulted, saying he was just curious, not checking anything. And the thing was that Zinochka simply wanted to have an idle chat, scrutinize her profile, give me all sorts of nonsensical advice, etc. So I decided simply to drop her, Zinochka, out of the picture and make do, quite simply, with an (antique) naked wench, but couldn’t finish even that on time and sent him (Bryusov) a cable that I was quitting.”[6]

The story had its continuation. It was at that time that Bryusov decided to publish a literary periodical, “Vesy” (Libra). He asked Bakst for help, to which Bakst replied: “Please consider me as an employee of ‘Vesy’. I will gladly do the cover, first, because the name is interesting and stirs the illustrator’s artistic imagination, and second, because I feel guilty towards you for the failure with the Gippius-Merezhk. tomes.”[7]

Bakst worked very carefully, producing not only a sketch for the magazine’s cover but also developing the idea at a further stage, going into every detail of the process of production of the magazine. In December 1903 he wrote to Bryusov: “I’ve received your sketches and the one among them I fancy most is No. 1 - greyish-purple; green could be okay if you make it richer in tone. If only you knew how much time and energy we at ‘World of Art’ expend looking for the right colour for every new issue’s cover!”[8] Ultimately, every new issue’s cover had a similar design but a different colour.

The partnership of the poet and the painter was not always so successful, however. A sorry fate awaited the cover for the almanac “Northern Flowers” which Bakst designed in the spring of 1903. The artist asked, “If possible, keep the book’s format in line with the cover, do not shrink its size - it will look more beautiful and stylish.”[9] Bryusov liked the design. However, suddenly he sent a letter with apologies: “The censors did not approve your design. Absurd, but that’s a fact! This happened shortly before the publication date. What could be done? We decided to insert an old print into your frame. Sure enough, I gave an order to remove your name from the cover. Don’t get angry with us. There was nothing we could do.”[10]

This story provoked anger in literary and artistic circles, and the artist told his fiancee about it: “The censors in Moscow disapproved of my cover for the ‘Scorpion’ almanac. Writers in Moscow are fuming over it; they had to cut a fragment and insert someone else’s (old) drawing into mine. The result: pele-mele [higgledy-piggledy]. But the back of the book carries an explanation.”[11] Fortunately, the sketch of the cover has survived, giving us the chance to rehabilitate Bakst.

But strange and sometimes funny things happened not only with book covers. His friendship with Zinaida Gippius would be tested more than once. In the summer of 1904 the artist, working on Diaghilev’s portrait, temporarily made his home in the “World of Art” editorial office. Not long before that Bakst had married and was now feeling depressed because his beloved had left him for a vacation in Finland. He was eager to go to his country home but Diaghilev would not let him, demanding that he finish the portrait. One morning the Merezhkovskys visited the editorial office, to find Bakst just out of bed. Soon Dmitry Merezhkovsky left to go about his business, and Zinaida stayed, in her own words, “just so, because out of sheer laziness I didn’t want to rise from the chair. Least of all I expected an undressed Bakst to suddenly begin telling me about his ‘undying affection’ and love! So strange! Now again...”[12]

However, the poet did not distinguish between the artist’s words about a great LOVE, of which she was herself a preacher, and her habit of having numerous suitors at her feet. In need of sympathy, Bakst wanted to get his feelings off his chest, give expression to his love and longing for his wife who was absent. But Gippius believed she was the object of the artist’s yearning and included this episode in her “Journal of Love Affairs”. Although she noted: “On that day, on my way home from the editorial office, I thought: here is a person in whose company I’m bound to experience gaffes all the time because even if he felt something for me, he. was just lying at my ‘feet’. His tenderness hasn’t risen higher than my legs. He doesn’t need my head, my heart he doesn’t understand, while he found my legs admirable. C’est tout.”[13] An intelligent and sober-minded woman, Gippius formed a clear view of the situation: it was not by chance that her portrait created by Bakst in 1906 featured her legs prominently (she approved of the work).

Gippius unintentionally contributed to the development of the painter’s literary talent. She later reminisced: “We decided once (when Bakst dropped by) to write a short story and set about the business right away. Bakst proposed the theme, and since it was very amusing, after some deliberation we decided to write it in French. The piece came out quite well: it was called ‘La cle’ [The Key].”[14] Not everybody was benignly disposed to Bakst’s literary endeavours. The poet Mikhail Kuzmin, in his diary for 1908, spoke of them quite disparagingly: “[Bakst] was nice and muddle-headed, and read his opus: a piece of crap, of course.”[15] Kuzmin and Bakst, meanwhile, were getting along just fine; it was just that the poet had more appreciation of his acquaintance’s artistic talents. In December 1906 Bakst wrote to his wife: “Today the poet Kuzmin called on me, asking to make a book cover for his poems. I’m going to spend this evening at his place, the guests - V. Ivanov, Remizov, Somov, M. Voloshin, etc. There will be a reading of new pieces.”[16] In fact, the writers and artists mentioned were part of the “in crowd” of writers and artists, to which Bakst also belonged.

Most often the company gathered “in the tower” in the apartment of the poet and literary critic Vyacheslav Ivanov on Tavricheskaya Street in St. Petersburg, where these get-togethers of close friends and conversations about literature gradually grew into what today might be called role-playing. It was no longer artists, poets, writers assembling to read to their friends and discuss new poems, short stories and plays with one another - now they were members of the society “Friends of Hafiz”. This close-knit company of aesthetically minded young people and notables of the art world, including many members of the “World of Art” group, gathered in the evenings at the home of Vyacheslav Ivanov and his wife, Lydia Zinovieva-Annibal. The gatherings of “initiates” - the group included Bakst, Nikolai Berdyaev, Sergei Gorodetsky, Kuzmin, Walter Nouvel and Konstantin Somov - proceeded according to a special scenario, stylized like ancient Oriental rituals. Every participant received a name: Ivanov himself was called Al-Rumi, or Hyperion; Bakst, Apeles; Somov, Aladdin. These gatherings were closed to outsiders, so the general public’s curiosity was piqued. Kuzmin recalled: “If we discount the fact that Lyd. Dm. was salivating over Bakst, and Vyach. Iv. was amateurishly making advances to Gorodetsky, giggling and regularly losing his pince-nez, there was no special fornication, when compared with the ordinary dinner parties.”[17]

The friends decided to immortalize the “Northern Hafiz” society by publishing an elegant and luxurious book of poems written by its members. Somov wrote to Kuzmin: “The book is going to be called ‘Northern Hafiz’, it will have an appendix with portraits of all Hafizites, printed in colour from original pictures which I and Bakst will produce, in the style of Persian multi-coloured miniatures with a certain idealization or, rather, stylization of Hafizical characters... Of course, the book will be anonymous and only the resemblance in the portraits will lift the veil of mystery a little.”[18] Regrettably, these plans were never to be realized, and by the middle of 1907 the society had disbanded. Bakst created portraits of some of its members - Somov, Andrei Bely and Gippius - but these images were produced later on a commission from Nikolai Ryabushinsky, publisher of the “Zolotoe runo” (Golden Fleece) magazine of literature and art.

Andrei Bely impressed Bakst both with his works and his looks. In 1905 Bakst created a shoulder-length portrait of the writer and informed Alexandre Benois about it: “Rozanov sometimes has interesting guests - Berdyaev, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Andrei Bely. The other day I sketched him with coloured crayons. He’s really got talent!”[19] The artist succeeded in capturing the lively expression of the ever-changing face with its slightly asymmetrical features and intelligent nervous look in the deeply set eyes, in which melancholy, confusion and unbridled strength do not conflict with one another but rather form one single whole. Bely wrote about how the portrait was created: “With carroty moustache and rosy cheeks, moderate and brainy Bakst... refused to picture me in a straightforward way; he wanted me gingered up to the point of ecstasy; he wanted to fasten this ecstasy, like a butterfly with a pin, to his composition; for this purpose he would bring with him from ‘World of Art’ the weaselly Nouvel, who is an old hand at gingering up: by applying ‘issues of art’, like a scalpel, to a raw nerve; Gippius, too, was planted for gingering up; this made me suffer to the point of the opening up of my dental nerve, as I was fingering my cheek; the face was gingered up with the grimaces of an orangutan: the grimaces of pain; while the rapacious tiger Bakst, bolts of lightning in his eyes, was sneaking up to them, seizing the brush; after every sitting I had this feeling: Bakst broke my jaw; and that was how I left - with my jaw broken; my shameful image (‘a masterpiece’, according to Bakst) was later exhibited at a show of the ‘World of Art’. The portrait screamed that I was a decadent; good that it disappeared soon; the second, and more famous, replica of myself created by Bakst purported to spread the message that I was a man with a moustache, and not a person with a nervous disorder.”[20] The second image referred to was Bely’s portrait created by Bakst in 1906, in which a certain artificiality of pose and the strange turn of the head seem to emphasize the overall impression that this is a mask and not a real face. This impression is enhanced by the words of the sitter himself, who wrote: “I appear gingered up, merry and ‘urbane’ - the way Bakst pictured me, eager to please me, for the second time: a man with moustache and a raised head, as if on a stage. And the underside is Bakst’s first portrait: a face contorted with pain.”[21]

In the same year, 1906, Bakst created a pastel portrait of Zinaida Gippius. The poetess recalled her visits to the studio on Kirochnaya Street: “The sittings took place there - there were three or four of them, I believe. The portrait was again almost ready but Bakst silently disliked it. What was the matter? He was staring on and on, thinking on and on, and suddenly he upped and cut it into two halves, horizontally. ‘What are you doing?’ ‘It’s short, you’re longer. It needs length added.’ And indeed, he ‘added length to me’, an entire strip.”[22]

Bakst was a regular guest in the so-called Muruzi House,[23] where Gippius hosted something like a salon of writers and philosophers. He also often visited literary parties hosted by the writer Vasily Rozanov, with whom he gradually made friends and whose lovely portrait he created. These gatherings were vividly described by Andrei Bely: “The Sundays at Rozanov’s were grotesque, disorderly, noisy, merry gatherings; the hospitable host was untying knots; you did not lack space in the smallish white dining-room; there was a big wall-to-wall table. Somewhere near the rim of the table, V.V., inconspicuous and quiet, was holding the other one by his hand - splash-splash-splash into his ears - and puckering his lips. At the side-table, there is a separate merry-making group, relishing the deformity of Rozanov’s mighty vulgarity; carroty-moustached, rapaciously snarling Bakst, his brown eyes seemingly drinking it up; and whitishly swelling K. Somov, like an elegant little ball with a barely visible little moustache.”[24] Many at that time did not understand or feel the essence of Rozanov’s ideas. Interest in issues such as gender and Jewishness brought together people as different as Bakst and Rozanov. The former informed his fiancee in 1903: “I am writing about Rozanov with pleasure because it is on account of the attacks against me in the press that Rozanov stares at the ‘gender’. I stare at the ‘gender’. Rozanov is called an erotomaniac - this is a nasty slander. I’m called an erotomaniac: slander, too. Rozanov loves me very much. And I love him. And, as it seems, nobody loves the ‘sanctity’ of family life and ‘sanctity of love’ more than we do.”[25]

All of the above relates to the first stage of Bakst’s life and artistic career. The turning point came in 1909-10, when the smashing success of Diaghilev’s “Ballets Russes” in Paris brought him international fame, as the chief designer of “Cleopatra” and “Scheherazade”. In Paris he became a symbol of success, a trend-setter, a popular artist. There was a literary component, too: it was no accident that the programme of “Scheherazade” contained the phrase “libretto by Bakst”. And although Alexander Benois attempted to contest Bakst’s authorship, the artist, whose name was now refashioned in the French manner as Léon Bakst, continued to create librettos for ballets like “Artemis troublee” (Artemis in Confusion), “La nuit ensorcelee” (Magic Night) and other works, and also started writing for the screen. At the end of his life Bakst set about writing a memoir.

His book “Serov and I in Greece” was published in 1922. After that the artist began to write about his youth and first serious romantic relationship. The story behind this memoir is interesting and involves Zinaida Gippius, who came to Paris in 1920. Gippius gave this description of their meeting: “I’m looking, talking and only gradually beginning to ‘recognize’ him. Slowly works my mind, matching the erstwhile Bakst from St. Petersburg with the man in front of me. Did Bakst change a lot? Well, of course he changed. Sometimes I close my eyes and, listening to the peculiar slow-paced articulation, get a mental picture of Bakst such as he was once: his shortish young figure, his pleasantly homely face, hook-nosed, with a sweet childish smile, his clear eyes, which always had a tinge of sadness, even when they were laughing; the bristle of thick reddish hair...

“But this is Bakst, too; heavier than before, now he’s one immobile mass, the hair no longer bristled up but sticking to the forehead; and yet, the same slyly smiling eyes, sad and schoolboy-like - he’s the same: unbearable, vexing, naive, mistrustful - and plain. This is Bakst 20 years older, Bakst in fame, happiness and wealth. Essentially, this is the same Bakst.

“But I recognized Bakst completely next summer, when we again - one last time! - started writing to each other. Again delicate, sharp, clever letters, the words so accurate and to the point; under a joke, depth and sadness; under a smile, anxiety.”[26]

Gippius was one of the few people who noticed that Bakst produced interesting, engaging texts as well as images, and did not hesitate to tell him so: “I’ve always loved your ‘writings’. Everything, even the shortest notes, is somehow fresh and simple.”[27] Benois, too, remembered Bakst’s literary talent: “Levushka’s thoughts were always original and had a riveting pictorial form. They somehow cropped up at once and appeared as a surprise even to himself (a typically Jewish trait). There was never anything doctrinaire, dogmatic, or second-hand to them. The same can be said about his letters.”[28]

Sure enough, the artistic talent eclipsed the literary talent; the book of travel notes “Serov and I in Greece” would remain the only book published in Bakst’s lifetime.[29] Its release did not go unnoticed, and Bakst was flattered by the comments of acclaimed writers. But whereas Bunin, whose portrait the artist had produced shortly before the travelogue came out, only praised the book and went not a step further, Gippius was more attentive to the artist’s writing. “I read your little book, so mirthful, sparkling and youthful, in one sitting, in 30 minutes; and it was as if my former self spent these 30 minutes with your former self. For there is a lot of Serov and quite a large bit of Greece there, but both Serov and Greece are introduced through you; so, it’s you who occupies most space. I only wish the book had more text. I’ve always known you are very good at writing. And although I understand that this sort of fame is not something you go for, you’ve written something else, haven’t you? Where is this ‘something else’ then? You should send it to me, really. I am your very good and very grateful reader.”[30] Gippius could not believe that the book was the sole “piece of writing” the artist had produced: again and again she would ask him to send her something else.

There followed an exchange of letters, with the result that Bakst felt a desire to write some autobiographical notes, or something similar, very intimate notes that would not depict the events of his life as such but highlight his innermost feelings. Gippius encouraged him: “I will look forward to the moment when you get a desire to publish something from your own ‘Innermost’.”[31] The artist liked the idea and even set about explaining his vision of the future literary work; Gippius tried to dispel Bakst’s doubts and reassure him in his determination to put down on paper his “innermost” recollections with an element of fiction, a creative spin. “Yes, yes, not ‘inventing stories’, but recalling something that is your own, that happened or almost happened - things wished for... Only reminiscing, about the past, and about the future. Things wished for, produced and not produced.”[32] Such enthusiastic admonishments had their effect.

“Cruel First Love” was the tentative, provisional title of the autobiographical novel which Bakst started in 1923. Two thick notebooks filled with tight handwriting remain, with lots of corrections, phrases crossed out, and insertions in the text. The artist was recalling events that had happened 30 years previously. He changed the names of all the real-life persons featured in the novel except for his own and described the days of his youth, his passion for an actress of the Mikhailovsky Theatre’s French troupe Marceille Jausse, the experience of tutoring the children of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich in drawing and painting, and many other things. The backbone of the novel was not its plot but the main hero’s mood and emotions, the things he and Gippius had discussed in their letters to each other.

The artist planned to publish his memoirs under the title “Spring in St. Petersburg”, and its action is set in early spring in the “northern capital”. Visions of rather drab and dreary streets blend with the main character’s life, and the city itself, with its character and changes in mood and appearance, becomes a player in its own right. The novel’s story and the feelings of its main hero cannot be separated from the slightly mystical image of St. Petersburg at the end of the 19th century: “Night has fallen - I was still roaming - turning around corners; I reached a misty Fontanka, then turned on to Gorokhovaya with its wet glistening cobblestones. Near Pokrovsky Square everything urged me to walk down to Mogilevskaya, to Sennaya. Suddenly it became even warmer and darker. There was a premonition of verdure, my heart ached wistfully - I wished to run, to find something definitive. Amid the warm dampness, in the dirty-black and warm silence, passers-by looked strange, mysterious. Tightly cocooned, sullen, treading noiselessly in valenki [felt boots] and rubber overshoes - hailing from [novels by] Dostoevsky, from [stories by] Edgar Allan Poe.”[33] The artist’s literary piece seemed to include pictures that were never created. Bakst’s signature bent line, the fanciful plot and slightly spicy flavour of artistic life, and the bright but harmoniously matched colours - all of that is present in the novel, just as it is in Bakst’s paintings and stage designs.

Thanks to the creative atmosphere that prevailed in the turn-of-the-century literary and artistic circles in which he moved, Bakst had the opportunity to fully realize his diverse talents. A prominent representative of the Silver Age, at the end of his days the artist tried to take stock of his life: he was aware that “there is only one important tense - the present; only one significant moment - the immediate one. These minutes of lucidity are full of agony. But these are the wisest and most real minutes for our mind. During these minutes we see ourselves ‘at full length’, as it were, such as we were created by the universe, as travellers on our single journey of life.”[34] Only a true writer, artist and individual could say this.

  1. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery, fund 111, no. 53, sheet 3.
  2. Bakst, Léon. “My Soul Is Open”. 2 volumes. Moscow, 2012. Vol. 1. P. 71. Hereinafter - My Soul.
  3. Gippius, Zinaida. “Live Faces. Recollections”. Tbilisi, 1991. Vol. 2. P. 209.
  4. “Mir iskusstva” (World of Art), 1900, Nos. 16-17. Pp. 85-88.
  5. Ibid. P. 60.
  6. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery, fund 111, no. 140, sheet 2 (obverse and reverse).
  7. My Soul. Vol. 2. P. 80.
  8. Ibid. Pp. 80-81.
  9. Ibid. Pp. 60-61.
  10. Department of Manuscripts, Russian State Library, fund 386, box 69, no. 24, sheet 3.
  11. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery, fund 111, no. 77, sheet 2 (reverse).
  12. Gippius, Zinaida. “Journals”. Moscow, 1999. Vol. 1. P. 85.
  13. Ibid. P. 86.
  14. Gippius, Zinaida. “Dreams and Nightmares”. St. Petersburg, 2002. P. 389. Hereinafter - Dreams.
  15. Kuzmin, Mikhail. “A Diary. 1908-1915”. St. Petersburg, 2005. P. 93.
  16. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery, fund 111, no. 224, sheet 1 (reverse).
  17. Quoted from “Writers’ Associations in Moscow and St. Petersburg. 1890-1917”. Moscow, 2004. P. 52
  18. Somov, Konstantin. “Letters. Journals. Opinions of His Contemporaries”. Moscow, 1979. P. 95.
  19. Department of Manuscripts, Russian Museum, fund 137, no. 671, sheets 27-28.
  20. Bely, Andrei. “Between the Two Revolutions”. Leningrad, 1934. P. 67.
  21. Ibid. P. 67.
  22. Dreams. Pp. 389-390.
  23. The house survives today: the address is now 24/27 Liteiny Prospect.
  24. Bely, Andrei. “Beginning of the Century”. Moscow, 1990. Pp. 478-479.
  25. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery, fund 111, no. 54, sheet 1.
  26. Dreams. Pp. 391 392.
  27. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery, fund 111, no. 1007.
  28. Benois, Alexandre. “My Memoirs”. Vol. 1, book 3. Moscow, 1990. P. 624.
  29. “Serov and I in Greece”. Berlin, 1922.
  30. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery, fund 111, no. 1006, sheet 1.
  31. Ibid. Fund 111, no. 1008, sheet 1.
  32. Ibid. Fund 111, no. 1007, sheet 1.
  33. My Soul. Vol. 1. P. 178.
  34. Ibid. P. 79.

Illustrations

LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Dmitry Filosofov. 1897
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Dmitry Filosofov. 1897
Pastel on cardboard. 81 × 63 cm. Gamzatov Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts, Makhachkala
Léon Bakst. December 3, 1906
Léon Bakst. December 3, 1906
Photograph. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Zinaida Gippius
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Zinaida Gippius
Mir Iskusstva 1900. Nos. 17-18. Lithograph
KONSTANTIN SOMOV. The Artists Alexandre Benois and Léon Bakst at Work. 1896
KONSTANTIN SOMOV. The Artists Alexandre Benois and Léon Bakst at Work. 1896
Watercolour, lead pencil, gouache on paper. 37.3 × 22.2 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
Vesy (Libra). Magazine cover (sketch by Léon Bakst). 1904
Vesy (Libra). Magazine cover (sketch by Léon Bakst). 1904
Coloured woodcut
LÉON BAKST. Sketch for the cover of the almanac “Severnye tsvety” (Northern Flowers). 1903
LÉON BAKST. Sketch for the cover of the almanac “Severnye tsvety” (Northern Flowers). 1903
Ink, pen on paper. 21 × 17.3 cm. Literary Museum, Moscow
Severnye tsvety (Northern Flowers). The cover of the almanac of the publishing house “Scorpion”. 1903
Severnye tsvety (Northern Flowers). The cover of the almanac of the publishing house “Scorpion”. 1903
Woodcut
Apollo. Magazine cover (sketch by Léon Bakst). 1909
Apollo. Magazine cover (sketch by Léon Bakst). 1909
Coloured woodcut
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Sergei Diaghilev with His Nanny. 1904–1906
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Sergei Diaghilev with His Nanny. 1904-1906
Oil on canvas. 161 × 116 cm. Russian Museum
LÉON BAKST. Self-portrait. 1906
LÉON BAKST. Self-portrait. 1906
Charcoal, sanguine, colour pencils on paper. 76 × 52 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Andrei Bely. 1905
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Andrei Bely. 1905
Colour chalks on paper. 45.8 × 34 cm. Oxford. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. Reproduced from: Levinson Andre. Histoire de Léon Bakst. Paris, 1924
LÉON BAKST. Igor Grabar. Caricature. 1902
LÉON BAKST. Igor Grabar. Caricature. 1902
Italian pencil on paper. 14.5 × 22.1 cm. Russian Museum
FILIPP MALYAVIN. Portrait of Léon Bakst. Early 20th century
FILIPP MALYAVIN. Portrait of Léon Bakst. Early 20th century
Lead pencil on paper. 31.7 × 44 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Konstantin Somov. 1906
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Konstantin Somov. 1906
Pencil, chalk, charcoal on paper. 32.5 × 26.9 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
LÉON BAKST. Major Kovalyov Meeting the Nose. Illustration to the short story “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol. 1904
LÉON BAKST. Major Kovalyov Meeting the Nose. Illustration to the short story “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol. 1904
Lead pencil, gouache, watercolour on paper. 32 × 34.1 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
BORIS KUSTODIEV. Portrait of Léon Bakst. 1910
BORIS KUSTODIEV. Portrait of Léon Bakst. 1910
Tempera on paper. 42 × 32 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
LÉON BAKST. A page from the manuscript of the novel “Cruel First Love”. 1923
LÉON BAKST. A page from the manuscript of the novel “Cruel First Love”. 1923
Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery
Léon Bakst. 1890
Léon Bakst. 1890
Photograph. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Andrei Bely. 1906
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Andrei Bely. 1906
Pencil on paper. 77.5 × 53.5 cm. Literary Museum, Moscow
LÉON BAKST. A Street. The “Dogrose” Almanac. 1907
LÉON BAKST. A Street. The “Dogrose” Almanac. 1907
Volume 1. Coloured woodcut
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Alexei Tolstoy. Apollo. 1909. No. 3
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Alexei Tolstoy. Apollo. 1909. No. 3
Lithograph
LÉON BAKST. Headpiece to the poem by Konstantin Balmont “***”. Mir Iskusstva 1901. No. 5
LÉON BAKST. Headpiece to the poem by Konstantin Balmont “***”. Mir Iskusstva 1901. No. 5
LÉON BAKST. Headpiece to the poem by Konstantin Balmont “Fusion” (Sliyanie). Mir Iskusstva 1901. No. 5
LÉON BAKST. Headpiece to the poem by Konstantin Balmont “Fusion” (Sliyanie). Mir Iskusstva 1901. No. 5
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Alexandre Benois. 1898
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Alexandre Benois. 1898
Watercolour, pastel on paper. 64.5 × 100.3 cm. Russian Museum
LÉON BAKST. Headpiece to the article by Vasily Rozanov “Paestum”. Mir Iskusstva 1902. No. 2
LÉON BAKST. Headpiece to the article by Vasily Rozanov “Paestum”. Mir Iskusstva 1902. No. 2
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Vasily Rozanov. 1901
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Vasily Rozanov. 1901
Pastel, gouache on paper mounted on cardboard. 106.5 × 70.9 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Ivan Bunin. 1921
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Ivan Bunin. 1921
Pencil on paper. 34.2 × 20.5 cm. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts – Museum of Private Collections
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Zinaida Gippius. 1906
LÉON BAKST. Portrait of Zinaida Gippius. 1906
Pastel on paper. 54.6 × 49 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
LÉON BAKST. The Beloved Poet. An Open Letter. 1902
LÉON BAKST. The Beloved Poet. An Open Letter. 1902
Léon Bakst. Paris. 1923
Léon Bakst. Paris. 1923
Photograph. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery
Letter from Zinaida Gippius to Léon Bakst. August 1 1923
Letter from Zinaida Gippius to Léon Bakst. August 1 1923
Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery
Cover of the book by Léon Bakst “Serov and I in Greece”. 1922
Cover of the book by Léon Bakst “Serov and I in Greece”. 1922

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